Master of None: Season 2 created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (3 Arts Entertainment, Universal Television, Netflix, Alan Yang Pictures)
Starring Aziz Ansari, Eric Wareheim, Lena Waithe, Kelvin Yu, Alessandra Mastronardi, Shoukath Ansari, Bobby Cannavale, and Fatima Ansari.
Art seemingly seeks a state of barrierlessness. The best art often works to transcend its form. A basic melody becomes a harmony. A hero to anti-hero. A cave drawing to Impressionism.
While we cling to elements of the familiar—atonal music is a bridge too far to cross and a story needs a beginning, middle, and an end—familiarity breeds contempt.
Given the orbit of boringness linked to familiarity, the pushing of art may likely link closely to the desire to delight an audience. For me, the first complex guitar solos gracing my ears felt revelatory. These days, a metal band is a metal band is a metal band. Breaking form can shake a viewer into attention.
In comedy, the set up often works with form and situation. Watch a 90s television comedy and you’ll see two items.
- 3 plots. The A plot dominates the episode; the B plot gets sufficient billing to carry thematic weight; and the C plot gets a small blip and likely the most ludicrous and logically inconsistent story.
- Awkward scenarios. The characters fall into difficult situations and make the worst possible decisions, exacerbating the problem. Think a lie upon a lie upon a lie.
Given the stale nature of these kinds of comedy, Aziz Ansari’s Master of None feels transcendent.
Nominal Links to Narrative
For starters, the plot of Season 2, loosely forms a story. Personally and professionally, Dev (Aziz Ansari) faces circumstances that feel too good to be true.
In his acting career, an opportunity hosting Clash of the Cupcakes, a satirical take on all food competitions frequenting the airwaves of The Food Network, gives Dev a chance to leap into the television world.
Befriending Chef Jeff (Bobby Cannivale), the show’s executive producer and an Anthony Bourdain styled character, provides Dev with an opportunity to create programming that links his on-air talent with his passion for food.
Simultaneously. Francesca (Alessandra Mastronardi), and Italian woman Dev meets in Modena while learning how to make pasta, spends a month in New York while her fiancée attends to business.
During this month, Dev falls for her and attempts to ease through the murky waters of how to approach his feelings for someone who is off limits.
Art as Rule Breaking
But beyond these plot lines. The strength of Master of None rests in its style. Ansari breaks every rule. The opening episode is in black and white. One episode feels feature length while the rest sit at 30 minutes. One episode departs from the main characters to tell the stories of the marginalized characters of New York City (like a bell hop or a taxi driver). One episode tells the best coming out story on television. Another explores modern dating and Tinder.
Throughout these radical explorations of form, Master of None remains reliably funny. And for this reason, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Master of None is unlike any comedy on television and in an age where abundance means retread after retread, it’s refreshing to encounter something different.
Verdict: 5 out of 5